Thich Quang Duc statue to be erected at historic protest site

VietNamNet Bridge, Nov 7, 2007

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam -- The Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee and the municipal Buddhist Sangha yesterday held a groundbreaking ceremony to announce the construction of a statue of Bodhisattva Thich Quang Duc to honour his virtuous character and patriotism.

<< Thich Quang Duc act of self immolation on June 11, 1963 in Saigon, Vietnam

At midday, on June 11, 1963, Duc took a ride to the corner of Phan Dinh Phung and Le Van Duyet in central Sai Gon (now Nguyen Dinh Chieu and Cach Mang Thang Tam Streets). Pouring petrol over himself, he sat in the middle of the corner, struck a match and immolated himself.

The act was seen around the world on television.

The statue will be 6.3m in height and will be built in a 1,231sq.m park at a busy intersection on Cach Mang Thang Tam Street, where the act took place.

The model of the statue was selected by the committee from a competition launched by the HCM City Department of Culture and Information in April.

People's Committee Vice Chairman Nguyen Thanh Tai said at the event yesterday that the Most Venerable Thich Quang Duc had been determined to fight against the US and the South Vietnam government, headed then by Ngo Dinh Diem, to highlight Buddhist demands for religious equality.

His action made a significant contribution toward the uniting of followers of all religions in the country to struggle for peace, independence and reunification.

"The Bodhisattva Thich Quang Duc's marvelous flame had a strong spiritual power, making Vietnamese people wake up to hostile repression and stirring the conscience of the people.

It has become the Vietnamese Buddhists' symbol of union with the nation and a torch guiding Vietnamese Buddhism to develop in the spirit of dharma, the nation and socialism," Tai said.

"The Bodhisattva Thich Quang Duc Park, as completed in 2008, will be a place where citizens and travellers can come and recall an important and significant event in the Vietnamese Buddhists's fierce struggle for dharma and nation," he said.

The Most Venerable Thich Tri Quang, vice chairman of the Dharma Executive Council of the Viet Nam Buddhist Sangha, said: "The Bodhisattva Thich Quang Duc sacrificed his life to dharma, and the Vietnamese country which loves justice, freedom and peace. His life made a great contribution to serving dharma and the nation, bringing fame to Vietnamese Buddhism and the country."

The Most Venerable Thich Quang Duc, whose lay name was Lam Van Tuc, was born in 1897 in a small village in a province in central Vietnam.

In 1963, after four years of increased oppression by the Diem administration towards Buddhist priests and the Buddhist community, he decided to sacrifice himself to highlight Buddhist demands for religious equality in southern Vietnam.

His body was consumed, and all that remained was his heart. Later when the Buddhist community tried to cremate his heart it remained intact. It was placed in the Reserve Bank of Viet Nam and became the symbol of a Holy Heart.

Millions all over the globe saw his self-sacrifice, making the Most Venerable Thich Quang Duc a world-famous figure.

Before that day in 1963, he left a letter to the government. The core of his letter was a plea for all Buddhist believers, monks, nuns and laypeople to unite and strive for the preservation of Buddhism.